Call for Papers: Performance, Religion and Spirituality Working Group

11 December, 2016 by Joshua Edelman | 0 comments

Call for Papers: Performance, Religion and Spirituality Working Group

Call for Papers for the 2017 IFTR Performance, Religion and Spirituality Working Group's meeting in São Paulo (July 2017) and its ancillary meeting in Liverpool (April 2017).


For the group’s meeting at the IFTR conference in São Paolo, Brazil, July 2017

and its ancillary meeting as part of the ‘Sacred Places’ conference at Liverpool Hope University, U.K., April 2017 (see below)



Performative negotiations of sacred place and space



In the unstable and fluid political, economic and human geographies that shape the contemporary world (as well as other historical periods), some are drawn to religious or spiritual practices to establish places and spaces set apart from this uncertainty. These efforts to establish or negotiate set-apart places and spaces may reinforce existing patters of social and cultural power, or it may challenge them and their claims to authority. These acts may strengthen the demarcation of borders between nations, peoples, or political groups, or they may serve as gestures towards a universalising erasure of such demarcations, suggesting the ways that any place or space has the potential for sacredness.


Nor are these necessarily religious rites as such. Artists, environmentalists, political and activist groups have made use of techniques derived from the negotiations of sacred geography. Protests, occupations, site-specific performances and others seek to deploy our sense of a set-apart space for their own ends. But whether religious, spiritual, or neither, these acts of setting-apart require the skills, attitudes, theories and techniques of performance in order to function.


We call for papers which investigate the ways in which the changing geographies of sacred (set-apart) places and spaces are historically negotiated through performance. We welcome scholars from around the globe working on any of the word’s theatrical, religious and spiritual traditions, either historically or in the contemporary world. This year, we are particularly interested in papers that address ways in which the instability of sacred geography is negotiated.


Topics covered might include, but are in no way limited to:


-Migration, borders, and the performativity of national identity

-Diasporic religious or spiritual performance and the relationship to distant space

-Framing devices around religious, spiritual or aesthetic performative spaces

-Utopian religious or spiritual performances of (non-)space

-Performance, religion, and globalisation

-The place-making possibilities of site-specific performance

-Heresy, religious protest, and its use of place

-The occupation of space as a religiously or spiritually political act

-Pilgrimage, its performativity, and its historical development

-Spatial orientation in religious worship

-The performative relationships between texts, maps, and the sacred spaces they describe

-Digital geographies of the sacred and their performativity

-The autonomy of the theatre space and its performative enforcement

-Performativity of spiritual or religious understandings of ecology

-Sacred place-making as performative act

-Contestation of common space by differing religious traditions


Submitted abstracts should be between 250 and 300 words, and should include a brief biography. The group’s working language is English.

The following is the schedule for proposals for the main meeting in São Paulo:

 Abstracts are due no later than 15 January 2017.

Notice on acceptance will be given by 15 February 2017.

Finalized papers for São Paulo are to be submitted by email by 15 May 2017.

Papers will then be distributed to the groups’ members for discussion about a month before the conference. Rather than reading out papers in São Paulo, we expect participants (including discussants) to read them in advance so that we can maximise the time we have available for discussion.

Abstracts should be submitted through the IFTR’s website. Details will be available at the IFTR website ( in due course. Please note that accepted abstracts will be published in the conference’s Abstracts Book. Additional information such as the form the proposed submission will take, or information about available dates, should be included on the online form under ‘Equipment required.’ Should this prove insufficient, additional information should be emailed (no attachments, please) to before the 15th January deadline.

The working group’s primary meeting will be at the IFTR’s annual conference, taking place this year at the Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil from 10-14 July 2017. Because some colleagues may find this meeting difficult to attend, the working group will also be holding a smaller ancillary meeting in April 2017 in Liverpool, U.K., as part of conference ‘Sacred Places: Performance, Politics and Ecologies, a Multidisciplinary Perspective,’ hosted by the Cartographies of Belonging research cluster and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Centre for War and Peace Studies, both at Liverpool Hope University. The working group will meet for discussions on 19 April, and the papers will be presented in the conference that follows on 20-21 April. Those interested in attending the ancillary meeting should send abstracts to the Liverpool Hope conference organizers directly in response to their CFP, which can be found at . IFTR membership is required only for the ancillary meeting on 19 April and not for the conference proper on 20-21 April.

All questions or concerns should be sent to the group’s conveners, Joshua Edelman (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Kim Skjoldager-Nielsen (Stockholm University) at

Stay up to date with the IFTR Weekly Digest